Borderland fishing club reels more desert dwellers into the sport

El Paso’s desert climate is not stopping anglers from finding a local fishing hole in the borderland thanks to the El Paso Texas Fish & Game fishing club. “El Paso is not known for fishing, but there are lots of spots where you can go cast a line and catch some fish,” said El Paso Texas Fish & Game founder Pete Chavez. What started off as a simple Facebook group for locals interested in fishing, has turned into one of El Paso’s most well-known fishing organizations. El Paso Texas Fish & Game brings together men and women, anglers, not only to enjoy fishing in canals, rivers, and lakes around the borderland, but to also give back to the community. “We are in a desert, but there are a lot of us out here who love fishing and the acknowledgement for what we do makes us love what do even more,” Chavez said.

Bees lead researchers to trailblazing ecological partnership with Texas city

SAN ELIZARIO, Texas – What started as a project by Auburn University to study ways to protect a unique ecosystem of bees in the Chihuahuan Desert has lead to a series of pioneering environmental renovation projects for this historic frontier city on the eastern edge of El Paso County. While fewer than 10,000 people live in San Elizario, the area is special to researchers because it is home to one of the largest diversities of bee species and bee pollinated plants in North America. Auburn University researchers began working with the City of San Elizario in studying the bees in 2017. They soon realized there was more going on that deserved further study. “We were very much bee-centric and now we actually think much more in terms of the ecological interactions between plants and insects.

This guy loves the scent of rain in the desert so much he figured out how to bottle it

El Pasoan Kyle Alvarado has captured the sweet smell of the Borderland after a rainstorm in a bottle. His product has “one main purpose and that is aromatherapy“ Alvarado said while at the Onawa Studio, a holistic care and wellness center where students practice the connection of the mind, body and spirit, including aromatherapy. Alvarado studied communication at UT El Paso and is a writer and digital content specialist who previously worked with the El Paso Times and various local media outlets. Drawn to new and creative ideas, Alvarado took a fresh approach to aromatherapy. “Originally I wanted to make rain-scented candles,” Alvarado said.

Penguins chilling in the desert? El Paso zoo creating $3 million home for threatened species

The El Paso Zoo will soon become home to a colony of Magellanic penguins – a species listed as threatened by an international organization – in a new multi-million dollar exhibit as part of the city’s 2012 Quality of Life bond issue. Magellanic penguins, which reside along the coasts of South America and reach as far north as Brazil, are small – about two feet tall – with black and white feathers and banding on their necks. They are commonly found in Argentina, Chile and the Falkland Islands. “The more people learn and read about them, the greater their passion will before wanting to help,” said Rick LoBello, education curation for the El Paso Zoo. “We want people to be emotionally invested and passionate about the animals here.”

A dozen penguins will be part of a South American exhibit, set to open in 2020, officials said.

Mexican Gray Wolf slowly making its way back to Texas

Four decades ago, Rick LoBello discovered his life’s passion as he watched several wildlife experts capture an endangered Mexican wolf in South Texas for a preservation project. “When I saw one of the last wild Mexican wolves in 1978 I began my quest to help save the species and to help return it to the wilds of Texas,” said LoBello, educational curator at the El Paso Zoo. At the height of its time, the Mexican Gray Wolf could be seen in abundant numbers. According to the Gray Wolf Conservation, between 250,000 and 500,000 wild wolves lived in harmony with Native Americans. “Not many people know this, but the last Mexican wolf in Texas was actually killed near Big Bend National Park which was near where I lived.”

The top recycling mistakes El Pasoans make every day

Nine years after the start of a curbside recycling program, city workers say El Pasoans still don’t get it. “Within the last few years, we have seen the contamination rate of non-recyclable items in the blue container dramatically increase,” said Raeann Ortega Recycling, manager of the Environmental Services Department with the city of El Paso. Ortega said people are frequently tossing non-recyclables into their blue bins, which increases costs for labor to sort out at the city’s recycling centers. “Within the last twelve months we spent approximately $750,000 in processing fees,” Ortega said. The most common mistake residents make is putting Styrofoam containers and pizza boxes in the blue bins or taking inappropriate items with their recyclable items to one of four citywide Citizen Collection Sites (CCS).

Air pollution leads to lower grades for some El Paso schoolchildren, study finds

El Paso’s poor air quality is driving down school performance for children in neighborhoods with high rates of airborne metabolic disrupting chemicals, researchers say. In a study published in the September issue of the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, researchers at the University of Texas at El Paso and Northeastern University looked at school performance among fourth and fifth-grade public school children in El Paso. They found that children exposed to higher levels of airborne toxins had lower grade point averages,

Related: Air quality one of biggest threats on U.S., Mexico border

Study author Stephanie Clark-Reyna, a second-year doctoral student at Northeastern University who attended UTEP as an undergraduate, said she hopes the research will have an impact on how El Paso addresses its unique air quality issues. “Air quality in El Paso is concerning because of the trucking industry. Last time I looked it up, something like 800,000 trucks passed through a single port of entry in one year,” Clark-Reyna said.

Environmental justice for poor and minority communities featured at National Communication Association convention

PHILADELPHIA — Environmental justice in poor and minority communities, such as the U.S.-Mexico Border region and the city of Philadelphia, took center stage at sessions during the 2016 annual convention of The National Communication Association (NCA) early November. Kathleen de Onis, a doctoral student at Indiana University, said she was motivated to organize the environmental sessions at NCA, because, “it is really important for us to have an engaged community where members can bring in their experience and their knowledge to share their struggles and their successes.” Students from several universities, including speech and multimedia journalism majors from the University of Texas El Paso, provided presentations at the Building Bridges/Construyendo Puentes sessions on how some underrepresented communities face a variety of environmental justice challenges, from air contamination to soil toxicity and damage from floods. In addition to the UTEP undergraduate students, several doctoral students from the The University of Colorado at Boulder (UCB) and Indiana University (IU) also participated.  

The students shared the stage with local environmental experts from Philadelphia.

Hazy skyline of El Paso

Air quality one of the biggest threats on U.S., Mexico border

EL PASO – Lower Valley resident Daniela Caro struggles to breathe some days. “On bad days my asthma gets really bad, my throat closes up, even walking to class is a little bit hard,” she said. The 23-year-old El Pasoan lives near Riverside where trucks spew toxic fumes as they transport goods across the El Paso-Juarez border. The American Lung Association ranks El Paso’s pollution in the top 20 among U.S. metropolitan areas for both particles and ozone. Poor air quality has been linked to health issues, particularly for at-risk groups like children, older adults and anyone with respiratory problems like asthma.